Kochi port facilitated more than 10,000 crew change since the lockdown began and suspension of international flights came into effect.
The port crossed the 10,000-mark in crew change on August 20 and the total was around 10,400 now, said a Cochin Port Trust official on Tuesday.
Crew change comprises replacing one or more of a ship’s crew members with others as they come off and others sign in for duty.
Around 500 ships called at the outer anchorage of the Kochi port for crew change as the COVID-19 spread continued unabated across the world.
In normal times, a ship’s crew member gets off at a port of convenience and takes a flight home. Similarly, those joining duty fly to the destination where they join duty on board a vessel. However, the cancellation of flights and quarantine requirements in view of the pandemic made all normal operations impossible.
Port Trust sources said that while ships with crew change requirement waited in the outer anchor, the crew are brought ashore or taken into ships by tugs. The port levies only the tug charges.
The continuous flow of maritime crew has helped the hospitality and auxiliary businesses in Kochi stay afloat during the lockdown. Hotels, taxi services as well as medical laboratories testing people for COVID-19 got a helping hand from continuing crew change.
Meanwhile, a communication from the Shipping Ministry, issued in New Delhi, said that ports across India had effected one lakh crew change. This was the highest number for any country, said the communication.
Minister Mansukh Mandaviya lauded the port authorities for the work as crew change is not just a normal port operation but an act of assistance in unprecedented times to mariners across the globe.
Despite the maritime sector being hit hard, ports had operated providing essential services and remained the pillar of smooth supply chain, said the communication.